Literary Birthday: Anna Sewell

When Anna Sewell (born today in 1820) was 14 years old, she injured her ankle and never quite recovered full mobility. Spending most of her life crippled, she was still able to get around via horse-drawn carriage. It always pained her to see how most horses were treated in Victorian England. Several decades later, she began to write a novel about a horse who suffered under several cruel owners.

Written from the horse’s perspective (“The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.”) Black Beauty (1877) was mostly written while the author was confined to her sofa. Published just months before Sewell’s death, the book that she hoped would convince people to treat their horses with greater compassion proved to be a turning point in the history of animal rights activism.

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